This paper reviews nanoscale phenomena such as polarization relaxation dynamics and piezoelectric characterization in model ferroelectric thin films and nanostructures using voltage-modulated scanning force microscopy. Using this technique we show the three-dimensional reconstruction of the polarization vector in lead zirconate titanate (PZT) thin films. Second, the time-dependent relaxation of remanent polarization in epitaxial PZT ferroelectric thin films, containing a uniform two-dimensional grid of 90° domains (c-axis in the plane of the film), has been investigated extensively. The 90° domain walls preferentially nucleate the 180° reverse domains during relaxation. Relaxation occurs through the nucleation and growth of reverse 180° domains, which subsequently coalesce and consume the entire region as a function of relaxation time. In addition we also present results on investigation of the relaxation phenomenon on a very local scale, where pinning and bowing of domain walls has been observed. We also show how this technique is used for obtaining quantitative information on piezoelectric constants and by engineering special structures, and how we realize ultrahigh values of piezoconstants. Last, we also show direct hysteresis measurements on nanoscale capacitors, where there is no observable loss of polarization in capacitors as small as 0.16 μm2 in area.